A Mexican Painter And His Inspiration

By Darren Hartley


Diego Rivera paintings are large wall works in fresco. They help established the Mexican Mural Renaissance. Diego Rivera was a world-famous Mexican painter, an active communist and a husband to Frida Kahlo.

Cubism was the initial focus of Diego Rivera paintings. With their simple forms and large patches of colors, they began to shift towards Post-Impressionism, a shift inspired by the Paul Cezanne paintings. As they began to attract the attention of their viewing public, they were ultimately displayed at a number of painting exhibitions.

The first mural of note amongst the Diego Rivera paintings was entitled Creation. It was experimentally painted in encaustic in 1922. Other murals painted by Diego were done purely in fresco. Reflecting the Mexican revolution of 1910, they focused on the Mexican society.

There was a development of a native style in the Diego Rivera paintings, starting in September, 1922. The basis of this style was large, simplified figures and colors, with a tinge of an Aztec influence.

In The Arsenal, a mural by Diego, is a perfect example of how Diego Rivera paintings tell stories. The mural shows Tina Modotti with an ammunition belt on hand, faced to faced with Julio Antonio Mella, in a light hat. Behind Modotti was Vittorio Vidale, in a black hat. Based on this painting, viewers believed that Diego had knowledge of Vidale's plan to murder Mella.

Between 1932 and 1933, the Diego Rivera paintings consisted of a series of 27 fresco panels entitled Detroit Industry. His mural, Man at the Crossroads, in 1933, contained a portrait of Vladimir Lenin. He repainted it in 1934 and retitled it as Man, Controller of the Universe.

Laying the foundations for the transition from the artistic endeavour conception of the 19th century to a new and radically different work of art of the 20th century were the Cezanne paintings. In short, Cezanne paintings were the bridge between the 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century Cubism.

A French artist and Post-Impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne was also known as the Father of Modern Art. This title was given to Paul after his Cezanne paintings featured repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes, demonstrating design, color, composition and draftsmanship mastery. These brushstrokes proved to be highly characteristic of and clearly attributable only to Paul Cezanne.

Building up to the formation of complex fields are the planes of color and small brushstrokes presented in Cezanne paintings. The sensations of the observing eye as well as the abstractions from observed nature are directly expressed in these paintings. Other than conveying Paul's intense study of his subjects, they also show Paul's searching gaze and his struggle in dealing with the intricacies of human visual perception.

The development of an ideal synthesis among naturalistic representation, personal expression and abstract pictorial order is the objective of Cezanne paintings. A suggestion of the moody and romantic expressionism of previous generations is the dark tones of the early Cezanne paintings. These tones were applied with heavy and fluid colors.

It was a commitment to contemporary life representations that Cezanne paintings eventually developed into. They became Paul's own observation of the world. They were no longer concerned with either thematic idealization or stylistic affection.




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